Birding Manners Matter

A crowd hoping to see a snowy owl gathered at the reservoir in Central Park. Some birders complain that large groups can disturb rare species. Dave Sanders for The New York Times

You do not need to be a bird nerd to appreciate that an avocation like this one needs some rules of the game, especially at moments like these, which seem to come around every few years:

Twitter Is Turning Birds Into Celebrities and Birders Against One Another

A Twitter account helped spread the word about rare birds in New York City, but publicizing their locations exposed a rift among birders.

A barred owl, whose visit to Central Park has been promoted by some birders, including one who maintains the popular Twitter account Manhattan Bird Alert. Dave Sanders for The New York Times

In 2018 it was the Mandarin duck. Last October it was the barred owl. Just weeks ago it was the snowy owl.

All three avian species catapulted to celebrity status after they landed in Central Park, becoming the subject of news reports from Manhattan to India and attracting gaggles of groupies, snapping away on their smartphones.

These rare glimpses of nature in the heart of New York elicit a dose of joy in the best of times. But those feelings of uplift are magnified during the pandemic, when so many people are seeking respite in the outdoors.

Behind these idyllic encounters with nature, however, a vigorous debate is roiling the city’s birding community.

On one side are people eager to broadcast these flying visitors on social media, which they say allows birders to catch a glimpse of species they might otherwise never see.

On the other are birders who believe that indiscriminately publicizing the locations of sensitive birds attracts hordes of gawkers, who can disturb the animals, and violates the serendipitous aspect of birding.

Perhaps the most prominent of the avian paparazzi is David Barrett, whose Manhattan Bird Alert account on Twitter, which has more than 42,000 followers, has turned birds into boldfaced names…

Read the whole article here.

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